Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective Disorder, Overstimulation

April 21, 2015 Elizabeth Caudy

With schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder, feeling overstimulated strikes often-- in large crowds or even small family dinner parties. What I mean by overstimulated is a sensation that there is too much going on and too much noise. With my schizoaffective disorder, I have felt overstimulated at the family dinner table, at parties, and even at my own wedding.

Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective Disorder, and My WeddingWith schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder, it's easy to feel overstimulated, or like there's too much going on at once. See what it's like here.

Like many people with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, I’ve worn ear plugs to art gallery openings. I’ve left parties before dessert. I even had to leave my own wedding reception before the first dance.

As with most weddings, the weekend of my wedding packed in a lot of revelry. There was the rehearsal dinner, there was the bachelorette party, and then there was the wedding ceremony and the reception. It was just too much pressure for me. It had nothing to do with my fiancé. I was madly in love with him (and I still am). But after all that partying and all of that me being the center of attention, I had a meltdown at the reception. As I recall, it was shortly after we cut the cake. My mom, my new husband, the photographer, and my best friend were in the hall outside the reception room with me when I broke down crying and blubbering about how much pressure it was. My husband took me back to our condo and we got ready for our relaxing, no-pressure honeymoon in Door County.

Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective Disorder, and Everyday Life

Like many people with schizophrenia or schizophrenia-related illnesses, everyday life-- and not just parties or major affairs like weddings-- can sometimes be too much. I have trouble going to the grocery store, for example. The sounds of the checkout line and all the people rushing about shouting at each other (or at least it sounds to me like they’re shouting at each other) is something I can’t take for very long. Last week, when my husband and I were having dinner with my parents, like we do every Friday night, I had to excuse myself from the table. The booming voices of my family (or at least I perceived them as booming) and the bright lights over the table were too much for me.

How I Cope With Overstimulation

Living a life where even the most basic events take me over the top isn’t easy. I miss going to parties and rock concerts like I used to do when I was younger-- I wasn’t always like this. But at the same time, going to parties and rock concerts was never a regular thing for me, so their absence in my life now isn’t that noticeable. As for going to the grocery store, I just get in and out of that labyrinth of choices as quickly as I can, and that works for dealing with that problem. And my family is my support system. They understand if I have to leave the pasta and take a break.

photo by George Street Photo and Video

Find Elizabeth on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and her personal blog.

APA Reference
Caudy, E. (2015, April 21). Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective Disorder, Overstimulation, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 20 from

Author: Elizabeth Caudy

Elizabeth Caudy was born in 1979 to a writer and a photographer. She has been writing since she was five years old. She has a BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MFA in photography from Columbia College Chicago. She lives outside Chicago with her husband, Tom. Find Elizabeth on Google+ and on her personal blog.

August, 24 2019 at 5:16 pm

Can this happen with anxiety to? I don’t have schizophrenia/psychosis but I have overstimulation so bad that even going to the store for 10mins I have to come home and lay in a dark quiet room for several mins to hours. My brain feels way too overstimulated and I feel awful after going somewhere even quick. Even going to sons football practice can do this.

May, 27 2018 at 3:03 pm

Me have schizophrenia my name is Jared I always hear my neighbors talking about me and at the same time I hear other voices talking to me from other parts of my house and it's too much happening at one time for me to handle to the point where I have no control and hurt myself I also sometimes have a hard time saying what I want to say because I hear a thousand people at the same time talking shouting out words to me and it's too much for me to handle which leaves me not knowing what to say to a point where I feel like I need to hurt myself I can say the same when I see things like people coming at me with weapons wanting to hurt me and I also at the same time have Sensations like people are actually hitting me which leaves me fill over loaded to the point where I end up uncontrollably hurting myself if anybody could help me try to understand what is going on and if in fact it is sensory overload if anybody has any questions or could help me feel free to email me or better yet call me sometimes I have a hard time reading because all the words jump around and I can't understand what is trying to be said to me my number is 602 391 4798

May, 28 2018 at 10:10 am

I am so sorry you are going through this. Here is the National Lifeline number: 1-800-273-8255. But you should see a doctor immediately or, better yet, walk into a hospital if you feel like hurting yourself. Also, your schizophrenia doesn't seem well-controlled and if you work on that, the voices and the self-harm should get better. I hope that helps.

Supportive Mom
February, 28 2018 at 3:44 am

My son was diagnosed with unspecified psychosis. It has been 13 days & each time he go to the mall or try to work. He has a psychotic episode where people are talking about him and hearing the neighbors talking about. I tried to figure outbid triggers & that is it. When he is around more than a few people he can't handle it. I have been and to calm hi each time but it is so exhausting and draining. As long as he is home no problem as soon as he get out it starts over again. Supply with some tips to keep me sane. I thought after 7days of hospital treatment, the omega injection it would stop.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Elizabeth Caudy
February, 28 2018 at 8:17 am

First of all, make sure you're taking care of yourself first. As the saying goes, you can't pour from an empty cup. Second of all, it took my antipsychotic medication at least three weeks to start working. I hope that helps!

August, 17 2016 at 12:17 am

found this very validating for when I become over stimulated. Being able to show this to my family so they can understand me better as well was something I have been trying to find for months. Thank you thank thank you!

August, 1 2016 at 1:12 pm

My BF has schizoaffective disorder (bipolar type), and he doesn't get overwhelmed by sensory overload or overstimulation. I guess symptoms vary from person to person.

June, 9 2016 at 5:18 pm

Dear Nicole,
I glad that you shared your story it helps me to see I'm not as alone as I feel. I wish that I had all the family support you have my family just won't understand. I sometime remember back when I once was normal when I would be around crowds of people laughing ,joking and partying all night now I wish I could just make it through the day doing the simple things food shopping,laundry,getting an pedicure, manicure ,doing my hair my God it seem so hard all the voices having to talk to so many people living in NYC I would just die if I didnt drive and had to get on the train or bus. I hate the thought of going to a business meeting with my husband I used to be the brains or a simple parent teacher meetings I learning to except my illness I spent years thinking I was normal and I had a special gift that I had to keep secret .Then one day I woke up out of that fog an begin to except my horrid truth of shizophrenia Im one of the many family members from my dads side that have it yet nobody on that side has a clue if they did they would blacklist me like the others. stay strong it get easier once you start to except your illness and fight back knowing what you need to cope.

April, 29 2015 at 6:29 pm

Hi Elizabeth, I know what it's like to be overstimulated as well. When I was in high school, I went to a church after I isolated and had a lot of symptoms. When I heard everyone talk at the same time it felt like my head was going to blow off, and I was shooken up. I started to avoid big crowds because I would cry. The medicine helped, and therapy. Now I'm 22 and going to college as well as working part time as a cashier. When I hear people talk at work and I see big lines, I get overwhelmed still but I learned to filter out some noises, and may not even hear what some people say and just shrug. I always thought this was from anxiety, but as a fellow voice hearer I see how it can be linked to schizophrenia and how I get mashed up in my head and feel mentally drained when there's a lot of stimulations. Thanks for sharing, take care.

Ana Marta Correia
April, 27 2015 at 9:59 pm

Thank you Elizabeth Caudy for share your story... it's very helpful for untherstand how people with this kind of disorder feel. God bless you.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Elizabeth Caudy
April, 28 2015 at 3:07 am

Thank you!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Elizabeth Caudy
April, 30 2015 at 2:33 am

Dear Nicole,
Thank you! I hope someday I can get to the point where you're at where I can filter out some of the noise.

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